By Michael Solis, Trócaire’s Institutional Funding Officer in El Salvador
Last week, an estimated 10,000 people marched from El Salvador del Mundo (the Saviour of the World) to the Legislative Assembly to demand the approval of the General Water Law.
The demonstrators took a stand against the prolonged delay to the law and to counter the government’s proposed privatization of water.
“There is an absolute insensibility of right-wing fractions of the government, who are ignoring a law that deals with a problematic issue that El Salvador faces,” said Ángel Ibarra, director of the Salvadoran Ecological Unit (UNES), a Trócaire partner.
An estimated 10,000 Salvadorans took to the streets to demand the approval of the General Water Law. Photos: Michael Solis
Ibarra explained that a law is necessary to promote the human right to water. He says that transnational companies should not be allowed to rob Salvadorans of water and that “water should remain a public good.”
El Salvador ranks amongst the top five countries that have been affected by climate change. Access to water is a critical factor to help El Salvador adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Approximately 90% of all superficial water sources in El Salvador are contaminated, and El Salvador ranks as the second most water-stressed country in Latin America.
The availability of water has already declined by 35% in the last 30 years in El Salvador, and it is forecasted that all but one of its rivers will become semi-permanent in the future.
The General Water Law has been under discussion since 2010 and seeks to manage the resource of water in an integrated way that addresses the issues of health, risk, potable water, and sanitation.
Trócaire’s Big Lottery Funded (BLF) project involves eight local partners, most of which participated in the march. The partners rallied people from rural communities who have been educated about the law and their right to water.
With support from Trócaire, Salvadoran organizations and communities have been spearheading an intensive public campaign to address the deficit in access to water, which is a key contributor to poverty, ill health, and women’s workload.